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Teaching Guide

Teaching Matilda

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You know who didn’t have our teaching guide? The Trunchbull, that’s who. Shmoop is here to make sure your students aren’t chucking things in your general direction, telepathic or not.

In this guide you will find

  • an activity exploring the traits of geniuses.
  • reading quizzes ensuring your students are “Reader[s] of Books.”
  • discussion questions exploring family, education, and the supernatural.

And much more.

We can’t make anyone telepathic, but we can make sure they’re not apathetic.

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Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:

  • 13-18 Common Core-aligned activities to complete in class with your students, including detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes for every chapter, act, or part of the text.
  • Resources to help make the book feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
  • A note from Shmoop's teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the text and how you can overcome the hurdles.

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Instructions for You

Objective: What? Tons of Trunchbulls? One really is bad enough, thank you very much. However, you've got to admit that Roald Dahl's vivid descriptions of Miss Trunchbull are so creative and hysterical that they are worth delving into for a little bit. In this one- or two-period activity, students will find examples of how The Trunchbull is characterized in the text and will use the descriptions they find to create their own annotated artistic interpretations of this incredibly well written—yet incredibly horrible—character.

Materials Needed:

  • A copy of Matilda for each student
  • Paper
  • Markers
  • Other assorted art materials, if desired

Step 1: There aren't many characters more vivid, disgusting, or just simply terrible than Miss Trunchbull, principal at Crunchem Academy. She is so much fun to hate, thanks to the way Dahl characterizes her in the book.

Go over (or review) characterization: how an author describes a character. Characters can be described by how they look; what they do; what they say; what others say or think about them; and sometimes, if we're privy to their thoughts, what they think.

So, let's focus on how Dahl characterizes Miss Trunchbull. Ask your students to take a minute or two to brainstorm some adjectives that describe this lovely woman; then, ask for some volunteers to share. Some adjectives your students might come up with could include words such as gross, frightening, unfair, despicable, insane, or horrific

Step 2: Now that you have a list of nasty descriptors to start with, have students page through the book and collect quotations that prove that Miss Trunchbull has actually earned these labels. Students may find any quotations that describe Miss Trunchbull, but ask them to specifically focus on physical descriptions for this particular activity. They may mark their pages with post-it notes, or copy their quotes on a separate piece of paper, being sure to cite page numbers used for future reference.

After students have had a sufficient amount of time to collect quotations, ask students to share some of their best quotations that describe Miss Trunchbull in all her, uh, glory. If you're a techy teacher, Google docs would be a great place for students to go in and add to a running list, which would be available to everyone.

Step 3: Let's get artsy. Students will use the quotes they collected to guide them in drawing their own version of Miss Trunchbull. Each area of the drawing that is directly supported by the text (for example, the passage that vividly describes her legs) should be labeled with a text bubble that includes the original quotation and page number.

Step 4: Put up all of the Trunchbulls on the wall to create arguably the most hideous museum ever. Take students on a gallery walk of the museum, and have them note similarities and differences in one another's representations as they take the tour.

Step 5: Close by discussing your "museum trip." Chew on a few of these questions:

  • Do all of the Trunchbulls look the same? Why or why not?
  • Do they all have anything in common?
  • Is everything you drew backed up by the text? Which things are? Which are not?
  • What is an illustrator's job when he/she is hired to illustrate a book? What do you think an illustrator does to prepare?
  • Is it okay to add some of your own ideas or details even though they aren't described?

Common Core Standards Met: Reading Standards for Literature 6-8: Key Ideas and Details 1, 2; Craft and Structure 4, 5, 6; Range of Reading 10; Speaking and Listening Standards Grade 6-8: Comprehension and Collaboration 1, 2, 3; Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas 4; Language Standards Grade 6-8: Conventions of Standard English 1; Knowledge of Language 3.

Instructions for Your Students

Objective: What? Tons of Trunchbulls? One really is bad enough, thank you very much. However, you've got to admit that Roald Dahl's vivid descriptions of Miss Trunchbull are so creative and hysterical that they are worth delving into for a little bit. In this activity, you will find examples of how The Trunchbull is characterized in the text and will use the descriptions you find to create your own annotated artistic interpretations of this incredibly well written—yet incredibly horrible—character.

Step 1: There aren't many characters more vivid, disgusting, or just simply terrible than Miss Trunchbull, principal at Crunchem Academy. She is so much fun to hate, thanks to the way Dahl characterizes her in the book.

Hold the phone. What does characterization even mean? What are some ways an author characterizes a character? Let's chat.

Once you've got that covered, let's focus on how Dahl characterizes Miss Trunchbull. Take a minute or two to brainstorm some adjectives that describe this lovely woman; then, let's have some volunteers share.

Step 2: Now that you have a list of nasty descriptors to start with, page through the book and collect quotations that prove that Miss Trunchbull has actually earned these labels. You may find any quotations that describe Miss Trunchbull, but specifically focus on physical descriptions for this particular activity. You may mark your pages with post-it notes, or copy your quotes on a separate piece of paper, being sure to cite page numbers used for future reference.

After you've had a good amount of time to collect quotations, let's share some of your favorite quotations that describe Miss Trunchbull in all her, uh, glory. Who has a good one?

Step 3: Let's get artsy. Use the quotes you and your classmates have collected to guide you in drawing your own version of Ms. Trunchbull. Each area of the drawing that is directly supported by the text (for example, the passage that vividly describes her legs) should be labeled with a text bubble with the original quotation and page number.

Step 4: Once your masterpieces are complete, your teacher will put up all of the Trunchbulls on the wall to create arguably the most hideous museum ever. As you go on a gallery walk of the museum, note similarities and differences in each other's Trunchbulls as you take the tour.

Step 5: Close by discussing your "museum trip." Chew on a few of these questions:

  • Do all of the Trunchbulls look the same? Why or why not?
  • Do they all have anything in common?
  • Is everything you drew backed up by the text? Which things are? Which are not?
  • What is an illustrator's job when he/she is hired to illustrate a book? What do you think an illustrator does to prepare?
  • Is it okay to add some of your own ideas or details even though they aren't described?

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WANT MORE HELP TEACHING MATILDA?

Check out all the different parts of our corresponding learning guide.

Intro    Summary    Themes    Quotes    Characters    Analysis    Questions    Quizzes    Flashcards    Best of the Web    Write Essay    
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